January 2021 The Dozen

Why We Love Chardonnay

Roger Morris reviews Chardonnays and several red wine varieties.

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Recently, my doorstep became populated with abandoned Chardonnays. Five of them which followed me inside are reviewed below, and there are more to come.

Critics of Chardonnays often cite negatively its popularity and ubiquity, but I’ve never understood why we should automatically criticize a wine because there’s lot of it and people like it. Chardonnay in the right hands makes some of the best white wines in the world, and while these may not be the absolute greatest, they are absolutely good.

But also let me also call your attention to an excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay’s soul mate, which is the final entry of this dozen.

2019 Barons de Rothschild “Aussières” Sud de France Chardonnay ($14).  Lots of rounded apples flavors, resting somewhere between an oaky California Chard and a minerality Bourgogne.

2019 FEL Anderson Valley Chardonnay ($30). A breath of fresh air – very mellow with lightly spicy, lovely pear flavors.

2018 Pieropan “Calvarino” Soave Classico ($31). Almost juicy – fruity, yet not sweet, balanced by tart apple flavors and a lightly tangy green-fruit finish.

2017 Adelsheim “Staking Claim” Chehalem Mountains Chardonnay ($34). Quite nice and complex – both fresh and preserved apples with some flavors of apple skins and minerality, similar to a robust Champagne without the bubbles.

2017 Gran Moraine Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay ($44). Very good balance between fruit and minerality, with generous mouth feel but with sufficient finishing acidity.

2018 Lingua Franca Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay ($53). Juicy, with lots of barrel notes of fresh oak, lively apple fruitiness and some spiciness.

2017 Quintas de Borba Alentejo ($9). Lively, spicy purple fruits with some savory notes in the finish.

2018 Cellier des Dauphins “Les Dauphin” Côtes du Rhone Rouge ($11). Rhone spicy, lush raspberry fruit, some garrigue, clean finish.

2018 Barons de Rothschild “Aussières” Sud de France Red Blend ($15). More red than dark fruits, some creaminess, but with a little “hole in the middle” that leaves the taste unfinished.

2018 Barons de Rothschild “Blason d’Aussières” Corbieres ($19). Very nice – ripe, succulent fruit with a pleasant thread of acidity running through it and a pleasant hint of earthiness in the finish.

2017 Château Paradis Casseuil Bordeaux ($35). Enjoyable tart cherry fruit, medium body, some savory notes, good acidity, though could use some more strength in the finish.

2017 J Vineyards “Annapolis Ridge” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($110). Beautiful – lovely flavors of dark cherries, exotic spices and savory herbs, firm yet mellow, and very long on the palate.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com.

Photo credit: Stacey Sears

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Roger Morris writes about wine, food and travel for The World of Fine Wine, Drinks Business, Meininger's Wine Business International, Wine Enthusiast and other publications in the U.S. and Europe.

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